It seems that Shakespeare is the rage in the second impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. When House managers were forced to take down the words of House manager Rep. David Cicilline (D., R.I.) after Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) denounced them as false, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md) declared “this is much ado about nothing.” Then Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) characterized the entire trial as “reminiscent of Shakespeare [in] that it is full of sound and fury, and yet signifying nothing.” MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, however, missed the Bard memo and triumphantly declared that Cruz was wrong and mocked him with a tweet “@SenTedCruz says #ImpeachmentTrial is like Shakespeare full of sound and fury signifying nothing. No, that’s Faulkner.” She was joined in the effort by the Washington Post’s columnist Jennifer Rubin. In our age of rage, it appears that “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”… and Shakespeare is Faulkner and Faulkner is Shakespeare.
Mitchell’s mocking tweet met with scathing responses that including from Cruz who declared “Methinks she doth protest too muchOne would think NBC would know the Bard. Andrea, take a look at Macbeth act 5, scene 5: ‘[Life] struts & frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound & fury, Signifying nothing.'”
Yet, the telling of this tale was supported by Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who wrote, “and it says volumes about his lack of soul. That’s Any Thinking Person.”
Rubin has not confined her view of the “soulless” to Cruz. She has previously called for the expulsion of anyone who challenged the electoral votes of Joe Biden and to “burn down” the Republican party. (For full disclosure, I clashed with Rubin over her personally attacking me for a theory that I did not agree with in a column that I did not write. I also challenged her on an equally bizarre column where she wrote about my impeachment testimony and later column misrepresenting the holding in an appellate case involving Trump. That false account was never corrected the Washington Post.) Given Rubin’s controversial history of misrepresenting both testimony and actual court opinions, the Bard could hardly expect any exception. She is an example of the concern stated in MacBeth of whether we can ever return to reasonable commentary “Or have we eaten on the insane root, That takes the reason prisoner?”
For the record, Faulkner’s book “The Sound and the Fury” was a reference to Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
I am actually sympathetic to Mitchell. We are all working in the hair-trigger environment of social media and 24-hour news. We all make mistakes, particularly with Twitter. It happens. Moreover, despite the words of Lady MacBeth, it is not true that “What’s done cannot be undone.” Mitchell apologized and tweeted “I clearly studied too much American literature and not enough Macbeth.”